A bill (HB0687 97th General Assembly) that was tabled in 2009 in the Illinois legislature can show us what won’t be effective to get insurance protection for persons injured by guns. It provides:
Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Provides that any person who owns a firearm in this State shall maintain a policy of liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Provides that a person shall be deemed the owner of a firearm after the firearm is lost or stolen until such loss or theft is reported to the police department or sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the owner resides. Provides that the Department of State Police shall revoke and seize a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card previously issued under this Act if the Department finds that the person to whom such card was issued possesses or acquires a firearm and does not submit evidence to the Department of State Police that he or she has been issued in his or her name a liability insurance policy in the amount of at least $1,000,000 specifically covering any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person. Effective January 1, 2010
While most of the provisions above are actually reasonable, the effect on reading this official summary is that it’s punitive for gun owners. The large round money limits ($1,000,000) combined with narrow coverage narrow that it doesn’t handle accidents that aren’t negligent or willful and responsibility for lost or stolen weapons stops when they are reported to police. This sort of legislation has to be written with care to insure that insurance will actually be available and cover the major problems. The enforcement processes need to be effective without being scary or offensive.
An approach more likely to be adapted could be modeled on the New York State No-Fault system for vehicles. This ties the insurance to the vehicle rather than the owner and being no fault does not require lawsuits to establish negligence. It’s limited as the the amount ($50,000) than can be collected and limited to ‘basic economic damages’ such as medical care and lost income.